“Ok, I thought this chick was just here to talk about her weight loss journey.” You are right 🙂 However, overall health includes not only your body but also your environment. As we know, nutrition is not the only thing in the world that impacts our health. If we are acknowledging that we need to be careful about what we put in our body, shouldn’t we also be careful about what we put in our home?
I’m not telling you to go full blown crunchy mom (y’all know who you are), but in a world where advertisements don’t have to be truthful and harmful chemicals run rampant in SO MANY products, it’s time to take a step back and analyze for ourselves what we are bringing into our home. There are ways to strive for having a (kinda) healthy home without breaking the bank, too. Also, ye be warned, this is a long post (because I couldn’t help myself), but if you scroll down a little bit you’ll find a Table of Contents so you can jump to the section you’re interested in!
I’m not saying you need to do a complete overhaul on day one. Just like any successful lifestyle changes, you make one small change at a time and it leads to big, lasting, sustainable changes.
My husband and I have been working towards a more eco-friendly, less toxic home for years now. Catch that? YEARS. The approach we have been taking is to identify one product we would like to replace with an eco-friendly option, research the best replacements, and then buy said replacement once I run out of my current product. I’m striving for that kinda healthy home, but I’m not about to be wasteful in the process.
Do Your Research
So where do you start? Research. Research and knowledge are EVERYTHING. Once you know what is in the products you’re using, you can’t ignore it. My go to source for reliable, detailed information is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG is a non-profit organization that does extensive research on all sorts of products and analyzes exactly how they impact our health and our environment. They rate the products on a scale of A to F (or sometimes 1 to 10). Each product gets an overall rating, but also each individual ingredient receives a rating and they tell you exactly WHY they gave the rating. This is the same website that puts out the Dirty Dozen list every year to let us know which types of produce contain the highest levels of pesticides. If you have’t been on their website yet, I highly recommend taking a look around!
How can the EWG help you make informed choices? Here’s how I use it. I knew I wanted to find a healthier option for my laundry detergent. For years, I’ve used Up & Up Free and Clear Laundry detergent. Harmless, right? No fragrance, what could be so bad? Head to Google and type in “EWG Up & Up Free and Clear Laundry Detergent”. Check out the photo below to see what comes up.
A BIG FAT “F”!!! Shocked? Me, too! I thought surely it wouldn’t be the most offensive option. Boy was I wrong. You can click on that picture to head to the EWG website and see exactly how they rated each ingredient. So then I thought, OK but surely my Up & Up Free and Clear dryer sheets couldn’t possibly be that toxic? I mean, it’s practically just a piece of fabric right? “F”! Don’t believe me? Check it out here.
So by now hopefully you get what I’m trying to say. As moms, we do our best. We choose products we think have a good balance of “it works” and “it’s healthy”. But sometimes, we just don’t know any better! We don’t do our own research because we have confidence that these companies have done the research for us and surely wouldn’t mislead us. (Don’t even get me started on Dreft marketed for BABIES which also rates a big, fat “F”.) This is NOT to shame you. This is not to make you feel like I’m judging you because of the cleaning products you use. This is just to equip you to make the best decisions possible for your family and help you feel confident in your purchases.
Google is your friend here. If you’re curious how any of your cleaning products rate on EWG, simply type “EWG (insert product name)”. For example, “EWG Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Soap” or “EWG Mrs. Meyers Tile and Tub Cleaner”. You can also go to EWG.org and use their search bar.
What Changes Have I Made?
I would say we are about 60-70% eco-friendly at this point, and don’t forget that’s been a long process. You CAN, by all means, ditch everything at once and start over but that would definitely bruise the bank a bit. Here are some of the products I have made the switch on. I’ll include the ratings for the old and new products where they are available. (Side note: My goal isn’t to find all products that rate A immediately. If I find out one of my cleaning products rates F, I’m just looking to improve. If Target sells an alternative that rates C, I’ll probably buy it!)
- Up & Up Free and Clear Detergent (F) –> Everspring Free & Clear Detergent (A)
- Up & Up Free and Clear Dryer Sheets (F) –> Wool Dryer Balls
- Shout Stain Remover (F)–> Method Stain Remover (B)
- Cascade Dishwasher Pods (F) –> Seventh Generation Free & Clears Pods (A)
- Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Soap (F) –> Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Soap (C)
- Standard Sponges –> Teal Trunk Silicone Scrubbers
- Tephalon Non Stick Pans –> Green Life Pans
- Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner (F) –> Mrs. Meyer’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner (A)
- Lysol All Purpose Cleaner (D) –> Common Good Cleaning Spray (A), OnGuard Cleaner Concentrate, Thieves Cleaner Concentrate (check out this post), Everspring All Purpose Cleaner (B), Counter Culture Probiotic Cleaners (the ones I reviewed in this post!)
- Up & Up Disinfecting Wipes (F) –> Everspring Cleaning Wipes
The Global Plastic Problem
Now that we’ve talked about taking steps towards eco-friendly cleaning products, I wanted to take a minute to talk about the global plastic problem. It’s a problem that is so easy to ignore because the average person isn’t physically standing on a beach completely smeared with plastic bottles. We aren’t the scientists researching the millions of animals dying from plastic pollution or researching how many microplastics we ingest them every day. We are regular moms just doing the best we can. So it takes effort to confront this problem and thankfully, I see people trying to reduce their use of plastic products every single day. This is a hard one… reducing plastic use. It’s everywhere. And I’ll admit, I still use tons of it. I still use plastic wrap a lot, I still use many plastic food storage bags, I still use shampoo in plastic bottles. It’s a much harder switch to make than finding eco-friendly cleaning products. That said, the difficulty of it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make changes when we can. Here are some of the easier ways I’ve cut some plastic out of our every day life.
We’ve all heard the stats on plastic straws, right? That the U.S. uses enough plastic straws every day to wrap around the world twice. This is such an easy fix! There are SO many options for reusable straws in literally every shape, size, color, and non-plastic material. Here are some of my favorites! (P.S. If you missed my post about hydration, I gave the scoop on all of my favorite reusable water bottles! Check it out! Ditch those plastic bottles!!)
- Bubba Big Straws– These are made of silicone and are a great size for tumblers. Pro tip- they are long enough to cut in half and use in kid’s cups, too. And they are extremely inexpensive. Double the non-plastic fun!
- Metal Straws with Silicone Tips– These are awesome for cold or hot drinks! I love the silicone tip to make the straw a bit more comfortable.
- Silicone Straws for Take & Toss Cups– or any kid’s cup! These have been a lifesaver. I always used to lose the straws that come with the take and toss cups, so I would end up buying plastic straws. These fit perfectly and come with a cleaning brush!
- Extra Tall Silicone Straws– perfect for tumblers over 24oz! These also come with a cleaning brush!
Beeswax Food Wrap
Stay with me. Did you know you can’t recycle plastic wrap? Let that sink in for a second. Can you even fathom how much plastic wrap is used every day? Beeswax food wraps are simply fabric covered in food safe beesewax (and a few other ingredients) that you can use in any way you would use plastic wrap! Cover a bowl, wrap a sandwich, anything! Simple rinse off between uses. A big perk– they come in SUPER cute patterns and colors 🙂 These make awesome gifts for friends, relatives, and teachers, too! You can even make your own!
Silicone Food Storage Bags
Remember how I said I still use Ziploc bags? Yup. Eventually, I would love to move 100% to these! With many brands, you can not only store your food in them, you can also freeze, microwave, bake, and boil them! Here are some of my favorites that give you the most bang for your buck.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This is another easy area to reduce our plastic use! Keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in your trunk for whenever you go to the store. If you’re like me and you do most of your shopping at Aldi and BJ’s, these definitely pay for themselves quickly! I recently purchased the two pack of insulated grocery bags below and I’m happy to report they are super heavy duty and can carry A LOT.
Skin Care & Make Up
We’ve talked about cleaning, we’ve talked about plastic use. Did you also know you should be researching your make up?
Remember the EWG? They also rate skin care and make up products! In fact, there are a handful of brands that are now “EWG Verified” for meeting the highest levels of EWG’s standards. (Check out their database here!) One of those brands, Beauty Counter, sells a whole plethora of clean beauty products to suit all of your needs. (My girl Christen can hook you up! Check out her page!) Going with an EWG Verified brand is the sure fire way to make sure your using the safest products, but you can also look up your current products to see how they rate. Simply head to EWG.org/SkinDeep and use the search feature. They have rated literally everything under the sun. Skin care, make up, baby products (bubble bath, wipes, diaper cream, etc…), sun screen, fragrances, and more! I found out that my powder from Maybelline rates a 1! Yay! (Check out the EWG info on that powder here.) So I’m not rushing to replace that one. However, my Maybelline concealer rates a 4 so once I run out of that, I’ll be checking out options from Beauty Counter.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
That’s a lot of info, y’all!! Don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re feeling like you want to make some changes like the ones I wrote about, choose one area to work on first. Take things slow, do your research, and you’ll find the best options for you and your family.
I hope you feel a bit more equipped, a bit more informed, and motivated to start making some eco-friendly changes in your home!